San Francisco-based denim reseller TJ Marsh started his business hocking vintage jeans from his Instagram @BigBaggyJesus. If the pun Big Baggy Jesus isn’t obvious, it’s a play off of one of the many nicknames of Wu Tang Clan’s Old Dirty Bastard who on occasion will take the title “Big Baby Jesus.”
Marsh has always been a champion of baggy fit jeans, but at first he didn’t have a use or direction for his new account—only a clever name.
In March 2016, on Easter Sunday to be exact, he committed himself to regularly posting baggy jean inspiration on Instagram. Big Baggy Jesus rose again, and Marsh began cultivating a community around his baggy jean photos. Only six months later and now with nearly 3,000 followers, the Instagram account has become a launching pad for his denim resell business.
With many of his friends already reselling limited-edition streetwear and sneakers, Marsh decided to take a less-is-more approach to merchandising by staying “super focused” on his favorite denim decade and Made in USA denim. He describes his store as a “curated assortment of handpicked items.”
Marsh scours local California thrift shops for vintage baggy denim from the mid 90s and 2000s—the prime-time for baggy fits—and sells the items through Instagram’s direct message feature, the website Meetup and occasionally a street side pop up in San Francisco. Jeans sell for as low as $25 and as high as $100.
“The sweet spot is $50 dollars,” said Marsh. However, he’ll charge a premium for some of the best vintage jeans he’s able to find like Levi’s Silvertab in baggy or “Massive” fit, or his personal favorite, Ben Davis jeans in the Gorilla cut. Marsh is committed to keeping his prices reasonable for his consumers. “We want to make sure everyone is getting the best deals possible,” he said.
From a trend perspective, Marsh’s focus on baggy fits couldn’t come at a better time. Despite the popularity of skinny jeans, many trend forecasters have estimated the fastest growing trend in denim is wider cuts.
“Not to be an ageist at all, but if you think about what kids want to wear, compared to what their parents wear, it’s like skinny has become such the norm. Men in their 50s and 60s are wearing skinny jeans. So a 12-year-old looking up to his dad and his grandfather, as much as he respects them, doesn’t want to wear the same thing they’re wearing. It’s a natural progression to move away from the skinny,” Marsh said.
Thrifting and gauging what his audience likes and dislikes has led Marsh into phase two of Big Baggy Jesus: his own line. Inspired by skate culture and skate videos he sees on Instagram, Marsh said he wants Big Baggy Jesus’ private label to be a “combination of Supreme and Wal-Mart.”
Skaters dressed in baggy jeans isn’t simply a matter of mobility or performance, according to Marsh. “It’s that attitude and that sense of rebellion that comes with skater mentality,” he said. Marsh argues that baggy jeans are the necessary uniform skaters need in order to stay true to their sport. He added, “Especially when you have the likes of Nike getting involved in skate and the idea of skating going to the Olympics and stuff, it’s like what can we do, or what can the skate community do to stay core and stay at its roots and be badass and be different from what everyone else is doing.”
Marsh said his biggest issue right now is trying to figure out how to get low quantity runs completed frequently, while being able to deliver the whole collection for around $50 for bottoms and $25 for T-shirts. Being able to produce and sell his apparel at an accessible price point won’t be easy, but he has a vision.
“I want to pay homage and like throwback to the indoor swap malls. Being able to get a whole outfit for under $100. That’s the dream state, but trying to get those numbers to line up has been a little tricky,” Marsh said.